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Music - Singles of the Week - Monday, November 1, 2010

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles. All you have to do is click on the pictures to order them…

Johnny Flynn

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: JOHNNY FLYNN feat LAURA MARLINGTHE WATER: Johnny Flynn releases the third single from his latest album, Been Listening, in the form of The Water, his mouth-watering duet with artist-of-the-moment Laura Marling. Soaked in ambiguity and allegory, The Water references the life-giving and taking properties of the subject matter (“the water can’t drown me / I’m done with my dying”)… a bleak sentiment brought to life with Johnny’s disarming vocals, simple guitar plucks and breathtakingly beautiful percussion. Marling, meanwhile, adds a soothing, almost reassuring counter presence that lends the track a dusky, beguiling element and marks it out as one of several highlights from the current long-player. Trust us, it gets better the more times you hear it.
Available in all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Order the album l Album review

The Good Natured, Be My Animal

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE GOOD NATURED – BE MY ANIMAL/PRISONER: The Good Natured, aka Sarah McIntosh, release the catchy new single Be My Animal along with darker B-side Prisoner. Distinct in its perky delivery, vibrant vocals and edgy lyrics, The Good Natured seem to exist to deliver truthful insights into the rougher parts of intimacy made all the more striking by the fact that the sentiments belong to a 19-year-old. Nevertheless, it works and Be My Animal, in particular, stands out as a cracking single that retains an upbeat musicality in spite of its darker themes, which end with Sarah imploring the subject to “kill me now” and, throughout, plaintively calls out for her lover to become her animal and hunt her down. The track bristles with raw teenage sexuality to present an electronic love song with guts. Prison, the B-side, is full of echoed, layered vocals, atmospheric drum arrangements and a dark pop mix of Kate Bush meets . The song was inspired by Pedro Almodovar’s film Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down and confronts why some lovers have both physical and emotional power over us. The accompanying video plays on the idea of transforming ourselves for someone else, with voyeuristic snapshots showing McIntosh changing herself through make-up into a grotesque monstrous character.
Available in all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Matthew & The Atlas, Kingdom of Own

MATTHEW AND THE ATLASKINGDOM OF YOUR OWN: Aldershot based five-piece Matthew And The Atlas deliver their Kingdom of Your Own EP and immediately impress with their mix of Californian sun and muscular pastoral English folk. Comprised of four tracks, the EP opens with the honeyed, four part harmonies of Come Out Of The Woods, in which Matthew Hegarty leads his band over a starkly plucked banjo, before the song swells to a campfire, torch-lit chorus. It’s quietly spellbinding and deeply addictive, especially when considering the approaching cold winter nights. In welcome contrast, meanwhile, is the lively I Followed Fires with its Celtic undertones and stomping, heartbeat of a bass drum that should provide easy appeal to any followers of Mumford & Sons. Kingdom Of Your Own drops the folk elements in favour of a haunting acoustic approach more reminiscent of Ray Lamontagne. But just when you think you have the measure of it, the song drops a rolling, banjo-led outro that has already turned it into a live favourite. Closing track, The Waves, meanwhile, is a sparse but beautiful track that concludes with trumpet flourishes and a haunting vocal refrain – to once again bring about Mumford comparisons, while steadfastly retaining its own sense of identity. Matthew & The Atlas’ brand of song-writing may require a little patience on the listener’s behalf, but it’s rewards are plentiful once you give yourself over to their slowly unfolding delights.
Available as a download
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Leni Ward

LENI WARD – I WANT MY HEART BACK: I Want My Heart Back is the second single to be taken from Leni Ward’s new album Hope and, as the title suggests, the song represents Leni’s demand for freedom after a gut-wrenching break up and finds her in a defiant mood. This is no angst ridden Alanis Morrisette affair, however, given that it’s all sugar sweet vocals and bittersweet lyrics melded with swirling synths and harps. The message is clear – the girl is moving on and relishing her new found freedom. As such, it’s refreshingly upbeat and boasts a genuinely catchy chorus that’s given extra impetus by Leni’s appealing vocals. But then the track reflects Leni’s positive attitude throughout the painful break up she went through when writing the album. “I wanted to get out there and focus my energy on the things I wanted to do in life. I didn’t see the point of sitting, miserable, listening to down-tempo music and moping. I’d choose dancing over depression. I think the music reflects that.” The track is backed by several remixes, as well as a Frightened Rabbit Cover of Nothing Like You, which only adds to her appeal. Of the remixes, it’s worth making time to check out the Bright Light Bright Light mix, which adds bleeps, William Orbit inspired arrangements and a disco pop element to really bring out the positivity, and the Iambic Mix, which drops in a melancholy string arrangement and some guitar work, while giving Leni’s vocals a more ethereal edge. For once, these are a couple of remixes that bring something new and worthwhile to the original.
Available as a download
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Ruarri Joseph

RUARRI JOSEPH – AN ORCHARD FOR AN APPLE: Following a turbulent 2009 (during which Ruarri’s son, Alfie, had to undergo emergency brain surgery), Ruarri Joseph will release a new album, Shoulder To The Wheel, on November 8, which is preceded by the rather great single An Orchard For An Apple. He also undertakes an extensive UK headline tour, which includes a stop-off at The Lexington on November 17. The single begins with a stirring acoustic guitar arrangement, before dropping in Joseph’s distinct, heartfelt vocals and gradually layering in the elements to create a shimmering pop-rock classic, complete with spine-tingling piano arrangements late on. The song manages to convey Joseph’s fine song-writing ability (complete with a reassuring “that’s all right” chorus) with his ear for melody and classic song values. It’s an enriching listen that’s utterly addictive, and which bodes extremely well for the rest of the album.
Available as a download
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Skinny Lister

SKINNY LISTERKITE SONG: Skinny Lister release their engaging new single Kite Song as a download ahead of UK dates that will see them concluding with a night at London’s Enterprise tonight (Monday, November 1). The song combines elements of mandolin and acoustic guitar strumming, with a keen sense of melody, and layered vocals that continually open up the song from intimate troubadour offering to more expansive crowd-pleaser. It’s a playful, continually tempo shifting and uplifting song that contains the same sort of energy as the kite it sings of flying… and it gets more and more infectious with each listen. If Skinny Lister are lucky, it may even get picked up to provide bedding for a romantic soundtrack moment as it screams of feel-good values that make for repeated listens.
Available as a download
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website

Hafdis Huld

HAFDIS HULDSYNCHRONISED SWIMMERS: Hafdis Huld releases the beautiful autumnal track Synchronised Swimmers via Red Grape Records and immediately showcases the beautiful quirky folk-pop that is raising the singer’s profile worldwide. The title track from her second solo album, it’s a slow building, nicely layered song that is musically rich and emotionally resonant thanks to Huld’s almost husky, yet irresistibly sweet vocal style. The song was produced by Grammy Award-winner Calum MacColl and Alisdair Wright, and recorded and mixed by the legendary engineer Phill Brown (as if to underline Huld’s star in the making credentials). Bonus track Vampires once again slow builds, but is an intimate and dusky duet about two solitary lovers who crave their own company. It’s built around some nice acoustic arrangements, and subtle piano chords, to provide a beguiling and more contemplative companion piece to the lead single. For those who want to hear more from her, then check out the album and then keenly await her forthcoming collection of Christmas songs (recorded at her home studio in remote Mosfelsbar (half an hour outside of Reykjavik), as well as her incoming album of traditional Icelandic lullabies (in Icelandic). She’s a busy lady.
Available as a download
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Norman Bedard, Thank You

NORMAN BEDARDTHANK YOU: Described as ‘zen pop’ by the artist himself, Norman Bedard’s Thank You is a heartfelt homage to friends who have played a significant role in his life. It’s delivered with the backing of an acoustic guitar and some electronic flourishes, but is a slow-burning, self consciously warm offering that’s ripe with melody and personal sentiment. If anything, it’s a little too earnest… although it’s also somehow soothing, especially with the late, albeit fleeting, introduction of a female harmony vocal. The track is the third single to emerge from Bedard’s Vital album, which was written with the aim of offering something optimistic. Bedard has been singing and performing since the early ‘80s, when he first appeared using the stage name Norman Iceberg. He has since recorded several singles and albums, with his latest available as a CD and a download.
Available on CD and download
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

Ulterior

ULTERIORSEX WAR SEX CARS SEX: Ulterior return this winter to restore the bite of London’s Dark Rock scene with new single Sex War Sex Cars Sex, together with their debut album following in early 2011. The single is to be released on Speed Records in an exclusive collaboration with Rough Trade Stores. A limited edition 7” single will be available only to purchase at Rough Trade Stores in three colourways and an in-store appearance planned to coincide with the album release. It’s a loud, provocative, messy offering that certainly retains the dark, penetrative edge they are undoubtedly seeking. Guitars start up without warning and crash giant riffs into your ear-drums, while the “sex, war, sex, cars, sex” sentiment driving the chorus is bellowed out so as to become insistent. If you like your rock dark and edgy, then it has appeal. If you prefer things to be done with a modicum of subtlety, then steer well clear.
Available as a download and limited edition 7”
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

“Website”: http://www.myspace.com/electricityisblood

The Gaa Gaa's, Volitaire

THE GAA GAA’S – VOLITAIRE: Following the release of their punk crazed Repulsion Seminar EP, which initiated a certain amount of buzz, Brighton’s The Gaa Gaa’s drop Volitaire as their next single and immediately condemn themselves to being an acquired taste. Described as a raucous and ear-splitting track, which creates a relentless dark resonance (that seemingly lasts forever), The Gaa Gaa’s really test the loyalty of new fans by making things as menacing and warped as possible. Vocally, it’s pained (and that’s putting it politely); lyrically it’s angst-ridden and desperate, and even instrumentally, the guitars assume a siren like wail that eventually becomes deeply irritating. The PR hopefully suggests that the track comes together to offer a gothic tinged version of bands like The Rapture… but given that it’s being released just after Halloween, it feels more like the stuff of nightmares! A B-side electro remix from Kitsune heavyweights Punx Soundcheck does little to alleviate the tedium.
Available as a download
Rating: 2 out of 5

Website

50ft Woman

5OFT WOMANMENAGE A TROIS EP: 50ft Woman are a female fronted London based band, consisting of front woman and lead vocals Minki, a 6ft diva (Walsall and London), Adie (Kent) and Paul (Essex) on guitars, Matt (Portsmouth and Elephant and Castle, London) on bass and Cormac (Belfast and Acton, London) on drums. With influences as far reaching as AC/DC to Adam Ant, it stands to reason that each song will be a story in itself. Energetic, spunky songs with quirky lyrics and catchy choruses make for an eclectic but energetic mix. Their new Menage A Trois EP is designed to deliver a take-notice snapshot of everything that have to offer. Lead track (Strictly) Only Swinging is a punk-rock offering that bears comparison to L7 and Hole, with a little London attitude and some Goth-like tendencies late on. It’s loud, brash and intermittently successful, while marking Minki out as a fiercely provocative singer. Of the remaining tracks, Psychic Hygiene adds a little more scuzz-rock qualities, with a playfully teasing set of vocals… but again, they don’t quite get it right. Fortunately, though, You’re In Love With Love (But You Aint In Love With Me) provides the best indication that they could branch into the mainstream. It’s a punchy Goth-rock offering that also maintains a healthy side order of pop/radio friendly qualities. If anything, it has an early Garbage quality and is pretty darn catchy, with some similarly well delivered lyrics. A mixed bag then… but one that’s certainly worth further investigation.
Available as a download
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website


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